The coronavirus is dishing a series of “knockout punches” to sporting world but the sports community is fighting back with extreme measures as its “cover and counter punches”.
Different sports leagues and associations all around the world are answering the challenge posed by the COVID-19 with either suspensions or cancellations of conduct of their games that would prevent the drawing of big crowds and stop the momentum of the spread of this disease.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended its regular season March 12 morning, Philippine time.
According to Commissioner Adam Silver via NBA on TNT, the league suspended their games of the 2019-20 season for at least 30 days, after which the league is going to reassess the situation if they are going to allow continuation of the tournament.
The positive test results of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was said to be the trigger for the league to announce the suspension.
The starting five of the Jazz and the Thunder were already at center court, ready for the jumpball when a Thunder staff darted on the court to relay the news.
It was later found out that one-time Manila visitor Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz was also tested positive for the virus.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) also suspended their games indefinitely. The Federation emphasized the protection of the health and safety of players, coaches, officials and fans as reason for the suspension of competitions that was effective March 13, 2020 in their press release.
FIBA added it will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and will evaluate the options for the resumption of competitions as the situation allows.
The US NCAA March Madness Tournament was also canceled. A main attraction for US basketball fans, the cancellation of men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments was officially announced March 11, Philippine time. Also erased from the schedules were all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.
ONE Championship has already taken steps in its backyard since January by holding their event in closed-doors.
It will be recalled that Honorio Banario won his match in Singapore without the viewing public. It was a weird instance when instructions from his corner blurted in local dialect was clearly heard during the match.
In the local front, The Philippine Basketball Association has already suspended the 2020 Philippine Cup games after only one game has been completed.
The indefinite suspension was made by the entire PBA board in consultation with Commissioner Willie Marcial in an emergency meeting on March 10. Also wiped out of the calendar were the PBA D-League Aspirant Cup games and the inaugural PBA 3×3 tournament.
The PBA, like other leagues, also emphasized safety of the fans as the main reason for canceling their games. Possible resumption of activities has been put hold until further notice.
The Philippine Super Liga, as of press time, postponed its schedule matches on March 14, Saturday, as precautionary measure. The league has been conducting its games behind closed-doors and it would not be surprising if more games will be suspended in the future.
The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) was the latest commercial league to suspend their games as announced by Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes in the evening of March 12.
Duremdes said the league cannot take for granted the danger COVID-19 poses to the spectators, players, team members, and MPBL staff.
On March 9, Public Information Office of Marikina confirmed that the city has called off hosting the 2020 Pambansang Palaro after a resident in the city has been found to be one of those infected with the disease.
The Department of Education earlier suspended all regional meets including the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) meet.
It will be recalled that the CARAA meet was originally scheduled by the City of Baguio on February 16-21 but was rescheduled to March 23-27 for the same reason.
The entire sporting world, fans, athletes, coaches, and teams, are all hoping these measures, though very costly, would put an end to the spreading of the virus until patients will recover or a cure would be identified.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS